Choosing a co-founder or co-founders is a difficult task because the obvious choices, such as friends or spouses, are often the wrong choices.

There are many theories on the number of co-founders. Some advisers say two is ideal and others do not quantify a number. In our view, the number is not as important as other factors. Having said that, more than four is a stretch. The best founding teams tend to be manageable and any more than four founders starts to become unmanageable.

Good founding teams tend to have the following characteristics.

Common vision for the startup

If the founders are not on the same page, there will be problems. It is particularly important for the co-founders to have a common vision for the business, path to exit and their respective roles. If not, there likely will be problems because the co-founders will be pulling in different directions. That does not mean there won’t be disagreements. There likely be many disagreements and those disagreements are usually healthy. It won’t work if one wants to get traction and then sell and the other wants to build for the long-term.


Startups pivot multiple times as they encounter market and business plan obstacles and the founders need to have the flexibility to pivot as well. If any of the co-founders are overly rigid or opinionated, they can stop the business from its natural pivots and are not ideal co-founders.

One plus one equals three

Co-founders should complement one another. It is common for three engineers from Google get together and create a startup or three college buddies to do the same. That is usually the wrong team. A better team has a someone who can inspire and sell, a leader and a technical person. Best friends also are not the best teams because best friends tend to be alike.

The ideal founding team has a history of working together, of similar age and financial standing.